Maybe you started taking medications to stop a downward spiral in your mental health, or during a period where things were dramatically different in your life or several doctors have started medications and now you cannot even remember why you are taking each of them or if they are working. Maybe you are not even sure you are on the right medications and you want a second opinion.
Regardless of how and why they were started, you are now ready to be medication free. Or at the least, you want to find out if you still need to take the medications you are prescribed. When it comes to getting off medications, there are some important points to consider and a psychiatrist can help you make informed decisions.
To come off of psychiatric medications safely, there are some key dos and don’ts. Done incorrectly, you might wind up back where you started with a relapse of symptoms or even worse off, struggling with withdrawal and rebound symptoms.
Board-certified psychiatrist Dr. Matthew Goldenberg has extensive experience helping patients reduce unwanted and unneeded medications and helping patients come off of medication completely.. Read on to learn important facts he believes can make that possible.
Don’t stop abruptly
The first point we want to make is that there are some very serious consequences for abruptly stopping medications, or tapering too quickly.
For example, one of our primary concerns is medication withdrawal, which occurs when you quit a medication cold turkey or too quickly. Almost all medications can lead to withdrawal if you abruptly stop them.
A common medication patients want help coming off of are antidepressant/anti-anxiety medications like SSRI’s. If stopped too quickly, the withdrawal from SSRI’s can be quite severe in some patients and include:
- Flu-like symptoms
- A return of your depression symptoms
- Nausea and vomiting
- Mood swings
- Strange sensations
- Suicidal thoughts and actions
These symptoms can develop within days, or sometimes it takes weeks for them to appear. A study conducted by Harvard Medical School found that most antidepressant withdrawal symptoms occur once 90% of the drug has left your body.
Abruptly stopping other psychiatric medications, especially benzodiazepines, are even more concerning. In benzodiazepine withdrawal you can experience hallucinations, seizures, or panic attacks.
Don’t go it alone
Given the potential problems that come with stopping medications abruptly, or decreasing too quickly, it’s imperative that you do so under our close supervision.
Based on which medications you’re taking, the dosing, and the length of time you’ve been taking the drug, Dr. Goldenberg designs an appropriate and customized timeline that will allow you to taper your medication safely.
Dr. Goldenberg is experienced in helping you to determine which medications are likely no longer needed and which medication you should consider continuing. If your goal is to discontinue all medication, Dr. Goldenberg can help you achieve your goal of being medication free.
Throughout this tapering, Dr. Goldenberg is with you every step of the way, monitoring your health and stepping in quickly should symptoms start to arise. This gives you the best possible chance of decreasing or stopping medication, while maintaining your mental and physical health.
Dr. Goldenberg can also provide you with additional supports and referrals to help decrease dependence on medications, including referrals to:
- Therapy and counseling
- Neurofeedback and Biofeedback
- Nutritional Support
- Recommendations on improving diet, exercise and sleep
Whether you’ve been taking antidepressants, anti-anxiety medications, ADHD medications, mood stabilizers, sleeping medication, or any other psychiatric medication for only a few months or for many years, working with an experienced psychiatrist like Dr. Goldenberg could be the key to your success.
One of the negatives of trying to stop medications on your own is that withdrawal and/or rebound symptoms can keep you dependent on medication(s) that you no longer need. Dr. Goldenberg can help give you the best chance of successfully decreasing the number of medications you are taking and/or stopping medication all together, if that is your goal.
If you want to break free from your medications in a safe and customized treatment plan, Dr. Goldenberg can assist you through medication management, contact our office in Santa Monica, California, by calling or booking a consultation online today.
Please note that Dr. Goldenberg also offers telemedicine services, and he is licensed in California and Alaska.